I am pleased and honored to speak today in a meeting that brings together elected officials and representatives of greater Taipei and of so many cities around the world - Asia, Europe, America ... All of us are aiming to make our metropolitan communities more human, friendlier, more apt at balancing natural and social equilibriums, and able to ensure the future well-being of their descendants. All of us are convinced that urbanisation is not a “fate” that will go inevitably with pollution and destruction of resources, but that it rather represents an opportunity that humankind gives itself so as to invent technological, political and human solutions to tackle the evils from which we suffer. The city is a place where imagination can be released, generosity expressed and solidarity forged.
The thinking around the world on the relationship between urbanisation and new forms of governance has several notable features: Firstly, everyone observes that we are marching towards a knowledge economy, a system that favours interactions between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, developers and production engineers. The second feature that characterizes globalisation is that it integrates the power of urbanisation into the economic development of the regions and countries that these cities irrigate. In this urbanisation process the concept of world cities has taken root. The characteristic of such a process is that economic growth is generally much higher among these world cities than in the rest of their countries. There are currently five world cities: Tokyo, London, New York, Paris and Shanghai. Many cities in Asia, especially China and India, and Latin America will eventually reach this status.
- Conduct a comprehensive transportation system connecting the suburbs, airports and economic areas around Paris. This is the main objective of the law;
- Make the Saclay plateau a global economic territory based around new clusters of innovation;
- Create for the implementation of the two aforementioned projects ad hoc proceedings and structures: the Society of Greater Paris as owner of the transportation system, and the Public Company Saclay Paris for the economic governance of the area. The “public contracts for territorial development” provide in turn for a concerted development of the transportation system between the state and local governments.
The lack of governance structure explains why despite its economic power, the Ile-de-France recorded growth figures lower than those experienced by the rest of France or other European cities. This lack of governance also explains that huge nuggets of jobs are not exploited. For example, the Saclay area is home to two universities and many prestigious schools and businesses. Its campus, in terms of scientists’ numbers and scientific fields concerned, bears comparison with the most prestigious foreign campuses. Thus the number of research publications, used as a criterion of effectiveness in the research sector, is equal to the one registered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University and Stanford. And it should catch up very quickly the level of Cambridge. However, at present, commuting in Saclay is ensured only by a few bus and one regional metro station, with no overall vision! That's why the State (in its role as strategic decision maker) had to come up with a bill on the Greater Paris. This text aims at fostering nine urban strategic poles, similar to that of Saclay, and at developing their transport infrastructure so as to support their dynamism. We hope that these nine clusters will eventually become modern cities, each of around 400 000 to 500 000 inhabitants. Thus, the law on Greater Paris tends to bring two main answers for reviving growth in the Ile-de-France and its global attractiveness in the world system. The first answer lies in a transport network serving the areas around Paris, according to a double-loop route that will serve the strategic areas.The second answer lies in the establishment of a ground-breaking cluster of innovation, based on a concentration of world-class universities and public or private researchers installed on the Saclay plateau, with State guarantees to support the development strategy. At a time of accrued competition among major world cities, it was essential to give Greater Paris the scale of, say, Greater London. At the same time, the unity and cooperation of local authorities that together constitute the Greater Paris could not simply be decreed from above. Like any very large region, Greater Paris is an ecosystem and a living ecosystem relies on self-regulation, ongoing consultation, flexibility, and continued creativity - not just planning and prioritisation.
To sustain that ecosystem - and here we enter the heart of our topic - traffic, communication and fluidity are key requirements. And here we have a lot of work to do. 900 000 residents of suburbs come daily to work in Paris and 300,000 Parisians go in the opposite direction. 95% of Parisians live within 600m of a metro or RER, while in inner suburbs it is the case of less than 50% of the population. The average time traveled between home and the workplace is 30 minutes for the inhabitants of Paris and 45 minutes for residents of inner suburbs. Traffic jams remain a sad reality in the Paris region, as experienced by tourists who go from the Roissy Airport to the heart of the capital... Fluid transportation is a key factor for the quality of living in urban areas. When meeting with environmental requirements, finding alternatives for clean transport and increasing the availability of transit is a priority for the future of metropolitan Paris. Today, the travel conditions in the Paris area remain insufficient and uneven, failing to respond to changing needs. The development of transversal transportation across suburbs is a priority. Network saturation during peak hours, lack of stops in small crown, the frequency of failures and ensuing longer transit time seriously harms the quality of metropolitan life. These weaknesses also weigh on the economic life of the city, because they affect the delivery time of goods and movement of employees.
Reflecting on the planning and development pursued from the ground realities we must avoid copying the models of global cities that, while developing fast economically, are noisy, polluted and violent. The quality of life in a metropolis on a human scale is a key factor of attractiveness.
Even if the Grand Paris is a project implemented in the territory of the Region Ile de France, the economic benefits, financing, and implementation work has a national dimension. Therefore, the government, not the region, created a special ministry to propose a bill, and manage the project, which should take place until at least 2020.
(Photo by Cathy Chuang)
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